Rowland Carlson

Bring your best, but the right best


I study historical swordfighting. Specifically, early 17th century Italian rapier. As part of the martial art, I travel to weekend events with tournaments, classes, and sparring. At one event I went to, I was free sparring. This is where I would challenge someone who wasn’t fighting to a few bouts.

Before we started sparring, one opponent asked me a question: what I would like her to bring into the fight. I asked her to bring her best, I had traveled all this way to fight the best. After she trounced me in the first two passes, she again asked me what I wanted. Here, she shifted from her best as a combatant to her best as a teacher. We spent the remaining time working on my form and technique. I won a tournament that day. But I remember more about her question.

Which best you need to bring depends on situation:

Duration matters:

What if I don’t know what best to bring? I ask. If that fails, I’ll pick one. It trains my judgment for picking the right best.

Where am I not bringing my best? Which best do I need to bring?